FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US’s Bloodiest Day in Iraq

by PATRICK COCKBURN And KEN SENGUPTA

Just four days before Iraq’s historic
elections, 36 US soldiers were killed yesterday in the deadliest
single day for American forces since they invaded Iraq almost
two years ago.

The heaviest loss was a transport
helicopter crash in the western desert that killed all 31 Marines
on board. The CH-53 Sea Stallion went down at 1.20am near Rutbah,
a desolate town 220 miles from Baghdad. Officials in Washington
said that bad weather was the most likely cause.

Four more US Marines were killed
in ground fighting in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and
Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and a soldier was killed by a rocket-propelled
grenade north of the capital. The losses bring the number of
US soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the war to more
than 1,400, with more than 11,000 wounded.

At a press conference in Washington,
President George Bush acknowledged that the news would be “very
discouraging” to the American people. “We value life,”
he said, “and we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their
life”. But he ignored growing calls in Congress for the
administration to at least set a timetable for withdrawal of
most US troops, insisting American forces would remain in sufficient
numbers to ensure “the job is done”, and the Iraqis
were able to defend themselves.

Despite the bloody cost of
the war, the President stressed “the long-term objective,
and that is to spread freedom”. Sunday’s elections, he predicted,
would be “a grand day in the history of Iraq”, though
he declined to specify what would be a satisfactory turnout.
An hour later, the Senate confirmed Condoleezza Rice as Secretary
of State by a margin of 85 to 13, overriding fierce criticism
from some Democrats that she had misled the country over the
reasons for going to war.

Ms Rice did draw more opposition
than any secretary of state in recent history, more than the
seven votes cast against Henry Kissinger in 1973, and the six
objecting to Alexander Haig in 1981. Her predecessor Colin Powell
was confirmed unanimously.

The latest surge in casualties
may divert public attention in the US from the election. The
US has lost 33 helicopters in Iraq, of which 20 were shot down.
In the worst incident before yesterday, two helicopters carrying
soldiers collided over Mosul in northern Iraq in November 2003,
while trying to avoid ground fire. Seventeen men were killed
and five wounded. A Chinook helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-launched
heat-seeking missile fired from a date grove near Fallujah the
same month, killing 16 soldiers.

Helicopters now fly low and
fast to give insurgents firing at them less time to aim. The
roar as they fly just above roof-top level in Baghdad often sets
off a cacophony of car alarms. Though flying low may make them
less vulnerable, it also makes reconnaissance and surveillance
by helicopter more difficult.

Yesterday, two suicide car-bombs
were detonated on the airport road, the most lethal highway in
Iraq, which is heavily patrolled by US armoured vehicles. Seven
soldiers were wounded. Last November the British embassy told
its staff not to use this road.

Although the interim Iraqi
government claims 14 out of 18 provinces are safe, Iraqi truck
drivers say the only safe provinces are the three Kurdish ones
in the north. The guerrillas appear to have an inexhaustible
supply of young men willing to be suicide bombers.

In the Sunni Arab town of Riyadh
south-west of the oil city of Kirkuk, three suicide cars filled
with explosives blew up close to an Iraqi army post and a police
station yesterday. Four Iraqi policemen, two Iraqi soldiers and
three civilians were killed, and 12 wounded. An approaching US
combat team came under fire and two soldiers were wounded.

The insurgents, many different
and loosely co-ordinated groups but all opposed to the election,
reject the vote as illegitimate because it is in effect being
held under the auspices of the US as the occupying power.

In the latest attempt to disrupt
polling, a suicide bomber detonated a fuel tanker at an office
of a major Kurdish political party yesterday, in Sinjar, a town
a few miles south-west of Mosul, killing 15 people and injuring
30, officials of the Kurdistan Democratic Party said. The insurgent
group led by al-Qa’ida’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
claimed responsibility for the attack.

The KDP is one of the two largest
Kurdish political organisations in Iraq, and part of a coalition
of 11 Kurdish groups for the elections. A video is circulating
of a hooded fighter with a pistol who says: “We are mujahedin
in the province of Nineveh [Mosul]. What they call elections
have no basis in the Islamic religion and that’s why we will
hit all the election centres.”

The US military keeps reporting
they are fighting a group called AIF, for Anti-Iraqi Forces.
US intelligence says 95 per cent of the insurgents are Iraqis.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail